Following up on their plan to encourage the use of free, open digital textbooks among the state’s schools, California education leaders on Aug. 11 released a list of resources they have determined meet state-approved standards for high school math and science classes.

State Secretary of Education Glen Thomas worked with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and State Board of Education President Ted Mitchell to develop the list over the past few months.

The "Free Digital Textbook Initiative Report," facilitated by the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN), outlines how open high school math and science textbooks submitted under the first phase of the initiative measure up against the state’s academic standards. The state received 16 digital textbooks to review, with 10 meeting at least 90 percent of the standards and four fully meeting the standards. The reviewed resources are available for schools to use this fall.

"California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative was created to provide students, teachers, and parents [with] access to free digital high school textbooks that meet California’s rigorous content standards," the report reads.

"It is important to note that, while the digital textbooks in this report were reviewed for alignment with California’s content standards, social content review criteria were not applied during this phase. Thus, a textbook’s inclusion in this report does not in any way constitute an endorsement by the state of California."

The report urges districts, schools, and teachers to conduct their own reviews to determine whether the resources meet their needs.

Researchers used content standards adopted by the California Department of Education in 1997 for high school math courses and in 1998 for science courses. Submitted texts were reviewed to determine whether the materials fully or partially meet or do not meet state board-adopted content standards.

For example, when looking at calculus materials, reviewers were looking to see if students would be able to gain knowledge of both the formal definition and the graphical interpretation of continuity of a function. In earth science, researchers looked for evidence that students would learn the thermal structure and chemical composition of the atmosphere.

"California’s Digital Textbook Initiative gives school districts high-quality, cost-effective options to consider when choosing textbooks for the classroom–not only during these difficult economic times but in the years to come," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "This represents an important step toward embracing a more interactive environment that leverages technology to meet the changing academic needs of California’s students."

State officials plan to review digital textbooks for other academic subjects in the coming months.

Links:

Free Digital Textbook Initiative Report

California’s state-adopted academic content standards